03/27/2017 12:21PM

Tepin refuses to breeze

Barbara D. Livingston
Tepin's first scheduled breeze in eight weeks was aborted after the champion turf female refused to go forward.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Tepin, the two-time reigning champion turf female, was scheduled to breeze for the first time in eight weeks Monday morning at the Palm Meadows training center, but the workout was aborted after the 6-year-old mare refused to go forward.

After approximately 30 minutes on the turf course - and several attempts to coax her into breezing by jockey Julien Leparoux - Tepin simply jogged the opposite, or wrong way, and was returned to her barn.

Trainer Mark Casse said Tepin displayed signs of being in heat. Casse also said he would talk to owner Robert Masterson about Tepin’s future, which could include retirement. Casse did say that he would most likely send Tepin to Kentucky, where she has typically thrived in her training.

“We’ll probably send her to Kentucky, see how she is, talk to Mr. Masterson and see what he wants to do,” Casse said. “We’re never going to make her do anything if she doesn’t want to do it. She went out there and didn’t feel like doing it.”

Prior to the breeze, Casse said Tepin hadn’t done particularly well this winter in south Florida, similar to what happened when she first got to Saratoga last summer. Casse said Tepin struggled with the main track at Palm Meadows. She breezed three times on turf from Jan. 8 through Feb. 1. She also suffered from a stomach ailment, Casse said.

On Monday, Tepin entered the turf course around 9:45 a.m. and Leparoux backed her up to the finish line. After several failed attempts to get her turned around and moving in the right direction, Leparoux backed Tepin up to the sixteenth pole. Tepin refused again, so Leparoux backed her up to the six-furlong pole. After several minutes and once again unsuccessful in getting her going the right way, Leparoux brought her around to the sixteenth pole. Casse and his son Norman were standing on the rail on the main-track side and made the decision to abort the work.

Leparoux then jogged Tepin the wrong way to the half-mile gap and walked her home. Casse said Leparoux told him Tepin “was a handful” walking back to the barn.

Tepin, winner of 13 of 23 career starts and earner of $4.4 million, has not raced since she finished second in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.

Tepin was the second champion trained by Casse who refused to work here this winter. Classic Empire, the 2016 champion 2-year-old male, twice refused to work on the main track at Palm Meadows. Casse shipped Classic Empire to Winding Oaks Farm in Ocala, where the colt worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 on March 22. He is likely to breeze there again this week as he attempts to make the Blue Grass or Arkansas Derby.

“We deal with stuff like this all the time, but they’re usually not champions,” Casse said. “It gets to the point where you just have to laugh. What’s that they say, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?’ "